The lingering magnetism of ’80s post-punk gave birth to modern bands like Interpol, The Killers and Bloc Party, which focused on various specific aspects of the genre’s sonic diversity. Camlann, a dark post-punk band formed in 2019 by three teenagers from Jakarta, Indonesia, gladly joined this tribe.
Camlann may be named after a medieval showdown (the Battle of Camlann, the legendary last fight King Arthur fell), but they specifically draw inspiration from the well of ’80s gothic and synthesizer-fueled rock. It’s the same territory traced by bands like Depeche Mode, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cure and Joy Division. On their debut album, “The Forgotten Lost Fragments” of 2020, you could hear elements of Killing Joke and Soft Cell – influences worn on their sleeves as a tribute, but also contributors to the soft and upbeat glow of their music.
On their second album, ‘Circa 1983’, Ony Godfrey, Bayu Triyudanto and Fauzan Pratama shed these softer materials. Instead, they fully embrace baroque energy by plunging into the unease and miserability that permeates the discography of Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and New Order. Their second album features 10 dark post-punk tracks with flamboyant gothic leanings – sound complemented by the band’s stage look of long hair, black lipstick, white makeup, and denim jackets.
It opens with ‘1983’, which with its classic 80s dance synth vibe combined with a very contemporary electro dance sensibility was a given for a single. The track shares a similar aesthetic with the ethereal, galloping “I’m Nobody,” also a song to dance to in the dim, dark light of your bedroom after dusk.
On almost every song, Godfrey delivers his vocals as a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Peter Murphy, channeling the spirit of Ian Curtis mourned by a drunk Marc Almond. She holds back on ‘Give Me Light’, an adventure through a miserable landscape of heartache with a blank face and contained outrage – and one of the best tracks on the album. The atmosphere is set up with reverb-soaked synth drums, bass like coming out of the depths of a cave, and sporadic and angular guitar chords.
Camlann designed a retro aesthetic that leans heavily on the ’80s – take their grainy music video for “Metropolitan Boy” – that supports the comeback vibe of their songs. Listeners who really lived through the era may mistake the band’s songs for postcards of invented nostalgia, romanticizing an era they never lived. But to accuse Camlann of being genre tourists is to ignore the music and lyrics’s nods to their Indonesian context.
When they sing how “we both drowned in the beauty of those city lights”On ‘Metropolitan Boy’, Camlannare inevitably vanishes in the blurry lights of a car ride through the industrialization of Jakarta in the 1980s. On ‘I’m Nobody’, Godfrey accuses someone of”spread propaganda worse than a missionary», A small pointed evocation of a specific history of Christian evangelization in Indonesia.
On their second LP, Camlann fleshes out his coldwave vision, evoking an atmosphere of mood and melancholy that feels like dancing in the dark under a disco ball with other folks in gothic costume, sweating carefree in the Indonesian heat.
- Release date: May 21
- Record company: Cold transmission music